United States District Court, N.D. New York
MEMORANDUM-DECISION and ORDER
LAWRENCE E. KAHN, District Judge.
The instant case was commenced by ten individuals (collectively, "Plaintiffs") who operate home child care businesses in the State of New York (the "State" or "New York"). Dkt. No. 1 ("Complaint") ¶ 1. Plaintiffs assert that State law authorizing child care providers to designate a representative to collectively bargain with the State violates Plaintiffs' First Amendment rights. Id. Presently before the Court are partial Motions to dismiss filed by Defendants Andrew Cuomo and Sheila J. Poole (together, "State Defendants") and Defendant Civil Service Employees Association, Inc. ("CSEA") (collectively, "Defendants") pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Dkt. Nos. 16 ("CSEA Motion"); 16-1 ("CSEA Memorandum"); 17 ("State Motion"); 17-1 ("State Memorandum"). For the following reasons, Defendants' Motions to dismiss are granted.
New York subsidizes child care expenses of qualified low income families through various programs, the principal of which is the "State Child Care Block Grant" program. Compl. ¶12 (citing 18 N.Y. COMP. CODES R. & REGS. § 415, et seq. ). Enrolled families can choose among eligible providers, 18 N.Y. COMP. CODES R. & REGS. § 415.4(c), and depending on their income level, must contribute towards the cost of the child care services, id. § 415.3. The State Child Care Block Grant program is administered by the New York Office of Children and Family Services ("OCFS") and county social service districts. Compl. ¶ 12. The social service districts determine eligibility for the program, maintain waiting lists for eligible families, and disburse subsidy funds to providers. 18 N.Y. COMP. CODES R. & REG. § 415.2(d)(3); 415.4. OCFS sets market rates for the compensation of providers by county. Id. § 415.9. OCFS also imposes requirements on providers offering services to families that receive subsidies, id. § 415.12, and sets "minimum quality program requirements for licensed and registered day care homes, programs, and facilities, " 1 N.Y. SOC. SERV. § 390(2-a)(a).
On May 8, 2007, then New York Governor Eliot Spitzer issued Executive Order No. 12, "Representation of Child Care Providers, " which stated that "child care providers should be given the option to organize themselves and select representatives for the purpose of discussing with the State the conditions of their employment." 9 N.Y. COMP. CODES R. & REGS. § 6.12. Order No. 12 divides child care providers into four distinct "representation units": (i) all subsidized day care providers and informal providers in New York City; (ii) all unsubsidized day care providers in New York City; (iii) all day care homes outside of New York City; and (iv) all subsidized informal providers outside of New York City. Id. § 6.12(2). The Order mandates that the State shall recognize the representative designated as such by a majority of a unit of child care providers. Id. § 6.12(3). OCFS is required to meet with a designated representative to discuss State child care policies and to enter into a written agreement, which may address "the stability, funding and operation of child care programs; expansion of quality child care; and improvement of working conditions, including subsidies, benefits or payment, for child care providers." Id. § 6.12(7). OCFS and the designated representative shall jointly seek any legislation, appropriations, or regulations necessary to implement any agreement. Id. § 6.12(9). The Order does not "render any child care provider a state officer or public employee." Id. § 6.12(11)(b). Nor does it "interfere with any ability that child care providers, or any organization that represents such providers, may otherwise have to meet or correspond with, or otherwise appear before, state agencies in regard to any matter of relevance, including any matter under discussion or set forth in any agreement between the state agency and a unit representative." Id. § 6.12(11)(e).
On June 18, 2008, then Governor David Patterson issued Executive Order No. 9, which extended Executive Order No. 12. Compl. ¶ 20. On October 1, 2010, the State effectively codified Executive Order No. 12 by enacting Chapter 540 of the Laws of 2010 (the "Representation Act"). Id. ¶ 23 (citing N.Y. LABOR LAW art. 19-C §§ 695a-695g). The Representation Act enables child care providers "to organize themselves and select representatives for the purpose of discussing with the state the conditions of their employment, the stability of funding and operations of child care programs and the expansion of quality child care." N.Y. LABOR LAW § 695-a. Under the Representation Act, the State shall recognize the majority designated representative of a child care unit and OCFS shall meet with the representative for the purpose of entering into a written agreement. Id. §§ 695-d; 695-e. The Representation Act reiterates that nothing therein shall render a child care provider a state officer or employee, id. § 695-g(2), nor shall it interfere with the ability of child care providers "to meet or correspond with any state agency with regard to any matter of relevance, " id. § 695-g(5).
In July 2007, the State certified CSEA as the exclusive representative of all day care homes outside of New York City, based on the submission of authorization cards. Compl. ¶ 18. That representation unit encompasses Plaintiffs. Id. The State and CSEA entered into a memorandum of agreement ("Agreement") effective October 1, 2009. Id. ¶ 21. The Agreement addresses, inter alia, compensation, dispute resolution, and training, and creates a quality grant program. See Dkt. No. 1-1 ("Agreement").
The Agreement also included a provision to seek legislation to authorize "fair share" fees from child care providers who did not join CSEA. Id. § 3(l)(vi). On July 2, 2010, the State enacted legislation authorizing the collection of fair share fees from non-member child care providers in each representative unit. Compl. ¶ 22. On September 27, 2013, the State amended the law so that it will not expire until September 30, 2016. Id. ¶ 26. However, on June 30, 2014, the Supreme Court held in Harris v. Quinn, 134 S.Ct. 2618, 2626 (2014), that the First Amendment prohibited the collection of agency fees from personal assistants who either did not support or were non-members of the union. Plaintiffs received a letter from CSEA in November 2014, stating that in order to comply with Harris, "CSEA has requested that the State stop deducting fair share fees from nonmembers, " and that "[the State] is reviewing and modifying its system to accomplish this." Compl. ¶ 33.
Plaintiffs' Complaint alleges two causes of action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. First, Plaintiffs claim that the Representation Act forces Plaintiffs into a mandatory agency relationship with CSEA and compels them to associate with CSEA and its expressive activities in violation of Plaintiffs' First Amendment rights. Id. ¶ 36. Second, Plaintiffs claim that the collection of fair share fees violates their First Amendment rights. Id. ¶ 39. Defendants move to dismiss Plaintiffs' first cause of action for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). CSEA Mem. at 1-2; State Mem. at 1. State Defendants also move to dismiss Plaintiffs' Complaint to the extent that it seeks monetary damages against the State. State Mem. at 2.
III. LEGAL STANDARD
To survive a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), a "complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 663 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)); see also FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(6). A court must accept as true the factual allegations contained in a complaint and draw all inferences in a plaintiff's favor. See Allaire Corp. v. Okumus, 433 F.3d 248, 249-50 (2d Cir. 2006).
The First Amendment guarantees "a right to associate for the purpose of engaging in those activities protected by the First Amendment-speech, assembly, petition for the redress of grievances, and the exercise of religion." Roberts v. Jaycees, 468 U.S. 609, 618 (1984). Freedom of association "plainly presupposes a freedom not to associate." Id. at 623. Compelled association may therefore infringe on a "group's freedom of expressive association." Boy Scouts of Am. v. Dale, 530 U.S. 640, 648 (2000); see also Hurley v. Irish-Am. Gay, Lesbian & Bisexual Gp. of Bos., 515 U.S. 557, 574-75 (1995).
Plaintiffs claim that the State is violating their First Amendment rights by forcing them to associate with CSEA in two ways: (1) Plaintiffs are forced to accept CSEA as their "mandatory representative"; and (2) Plaintiffs are forced to associate with CSEA's "expressive activities, " such as its petitioning, contracts, and policy positions. Compl. ¶ 36. Neither theory is viable in light of controlling Supreme ...